health

Caregivers' limited English skills can add to hospital stay

Children whose parents are less proficient are hospitalized longer than those whose caregivers are fluent.

By Carolyne Krupa — Posted May 31, 2011

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

Children hospitalized with infections are likely to stay in the hospital longer if their parent or other primary caregiver speaks limited English, says a study published online May 2 in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

Such patients also are 80% less likely to be referred for home health care services than patients whose caregivers speak proficient English.

The findings are significant, given that about one in five U.S. residents speaks a language other than English and about half of those have limited English proficiency, the study said (link).

"The most concerning consequences of such disparities always fall on the patients," said Michael N. Levas, MD, lead study author and third-year pediatric emergency medicine fellow at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo. "Families that have a prolonged length of stay have to deal with more time off of work, child care issues for the children not admitted and cost of a prolonged hospital stay."

Researchers studied 1,257 patients requiring prolonged antibiotic treatment at Children's Mercy between 2001 and 2008. Of those, 3.1% had caregivers with limited English proficiency, while 96.9% had caregivers who spoke fluent English.

The median hospital stay was 4.1 days. Patients whose caregivers spoke limited English stayed in the hospital an average 2.5 days longer than those whose caregivers were proficient in the language, creating an increased cost of about $6,250.

Home health referrals were made for 32.6% of patients whose caregivers spoke proficient English, compared with 6.9% of patients whose caregivers had limited proficiency. Multiple studies have shown that patients who receive home health care use fewer resources and have better outcomes, the study said.

Dr. Levas said researchers were surprised by the breadth of the disparities. Children's Mercy, which offers interpreter services, is looking at ways to improve quality of care, regardless of language barriers, he said.

"In health care, we are always looking for ways to improve," Dr. Levas said. "Finding disparities allows us to look within ourselves and our system to make things more equal."

Back to top


ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISE HERE


Featured
Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story


Read story

Goodbye

American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story


Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story


Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story


Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story


Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story


Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story


Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story

  • Stay informed
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • LinkedIn